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Monday, September 26, 2022

Powers of the president would be curtailed, according to Sri Lanka’s prime minister

As protestors continued to demand on the president and his influential family to resign in the face of the country’s economic crisis, Sri Lanka’s prime minister said Tuesday that the country’s constitution would be modified to limit presidential powers and provide more authority to Parliament.

During a speech in Parliament last week, Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa said that a power transfer is one of the most expedient moves that may be made to politically stabilise the country and assist in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for an economic recovery plan.

When seeking solutions to the country’s economic problems, Rajapaksa said it was critical to maintain political and social stability in the country. He went on to say that restoring the country to its constitutional status, which would give more powers to Parliament, would be the first step in the reform process.

After being elected to the president in 2019, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is the prime minister’s brother, centralised more powers in the presidency.

For the eleventh day in a row, thousands of protestors occupied the door to the president’s office, accusing him of being responsible for the economic catastrophe.

President Rajapaksa stated on Monday that he made errors, including delaying seeking assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and prohibiting agrochemicals with the goal of transforming Sri Lanka’s agriculture to 100% organic, which contributed to the current problem.

Despite this, both the president and the prime minister have refused to stand down, leading to an intractable political deadlock. In spite of the fact that opposition parties have rejected the president’s invitation to join a unity government, they have not been able to secure a majority in Parliament and so establish an alternative administration.

On Monday, President Barack Obama reshuffled his Cabinet, reappointing numerous fresh faces while removing four family members from positions in Cabinet and non-Cabinet ministries in what seemed to be an effort to appease demonstrators without compromising his family’s hold on power.

Because they have both the presidency and the prime ministership, the Rajapaksa brothers are likely to maintain their grip on power even if the constitution is altered.

When it comes to international debt payments, Sri Lanka is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy, with roughly $7 billion of its total $25 billion in foreign debt due for payback this year. Because of a serious scarcity of foreign currency, the nation does not have enough money to purchase imported products.

For months, people have been forced to queue for hours in order to purchase the very limited supplies of commodities such as food, cooking gas, gasoline, and medication that have been accessible.

The administration said last week that it will postpone repayment of foreign loans while it engages in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. On Sunday, Finance Minister Ali Sabry and other officials travelled to Washington, D.C., to meet with representatives from the International Monetary Fund. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are having their annual meetings in Washington this week.

China and India have also offered emergency loans to Sri Lanka, which has used the funds to purchase food and gasoline.

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